5 Outsiders to Follow at the Open
The 147th Open Championship is set to be among the most fascinating in recent memory. Carnoustie is fast and running following an unusually consistent hot and dry spell of weather throughout Scotland during the past two months, which has dramatically altered the character of a layout that most would rank among the finest in Britain.
Jordan Spieth is the defending champion - handing back the Claret Jug 12 months after his dramatic victory at Royal Birkdale - and the American faces a daunting task against a field that is primed with major contenders. Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler are the favourites with the bookmakers in the days leading into the Championship, with the likes of Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood and three-time champion Tiger Woods also tipped to be a factor in Angus.
However, we have taken a look further down the pack for golfers who could spring a surprise run for the game's oldest title, each of them having odds greater than 100/1. Perhaps the Champion Golfer of the Year is among this group, as we edge towards an Open that promises to be thrilling and intriguing on a course that will deliver a quintessential links challenge.
Playing in his ninth Open, the American finished in a tie for third at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2012, and has always warmly embraced the examination of links golf. Having finally managed to progress from injury problems to show form at the recent Greenbrier on the PGA Tour, the 37-year-old played early practice rounds at Carnoustie, showcasing just how firm the fairways were. Length won't matter this week, and should his putter turn hot, Snedeker could be an outside bet.
Just hit one 427 on 18 @TheOpen .. Guys would be hitting it in the burn in front of green 450+.. Carnoustie is baked out but greens are pure.. Never seen an Open this firm.. Will be an awesome week if it stays like this.. pic.twitter.com/AUXyPGF4iu— Brandt Snedeker (@BrandtSnedeker) July 14, 2018
Since winning the Masters in 2016, the Englishman had endured a horrid time on the golf course, struggling with his game and results. However, the 30-year-old has shown a welcome return to form in recent weeks, posting top ten finishes in the Italian Open and Irish Open. He also produced a solid performance at the Scottish Open, illustrating that he is ready to successfully tackle a scorched seaside layout. Perhaps it's early to expect contention, but it's clear that the man from Yorkshire is edging back towards his brilliant best.
The likeable New Zealander has been a man in form on the European Tour, coming agonisingly close to winning the Irish Open at Ballyliffin, only to be denied by the magic putter of Scotland's Russell Knox. The 31-year-old did secure his place in the Open Championship as a result of that finish, and carried on the positive vibes to Gullane, where he finished in a tie for sixth. Boasting a proven links pedigree, don't be shocked if the man from Auckland appears on the leaderboard at Carnoustie.
It's hard to believe that it has been nine years since the popular American defeated the remarkable challenge of Tom Watson to secure the Claret Jug at Turnberry. It was his most recent win on tour. However, the 45-year-old has shown encouraging form of late, finishing T-4th at the FedEx St Jude Classic, and T-2nd at the Travelers. The former Ryder Cup player also finished in a tie for sixth when the Championship was last year in 2007. Should he contend, it would be a heartwarming story for a man playing his 20th Open.
This amiable and unassuming South African came from nowhere to spectacularly win the Scottish Open at Gullane, after shooting an astonishing final round of 60 in East Lothian. The 25-year-old had endured a miserable 18 months of results, making his victory even more incredible - particularly on a links, which is a form of the game he wasn't previously comfortable with. Few expect him to continue this positivity into Carnoustie, but it's hard to completely exclude a player coming off the biggest success of his career on a set-up primed for the Open.
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